MP stands by plan for new lead­er­ship

Ivan Lewis con­firms Manch­ester’s lead­ers need a new body to halt the com­mu­nity’s de­cline


IVAN LEWIS MP has re­jected crit­i­cism of the plan to give Manch­ester’s Jewish com­mu­nity a new coun­cil of lead­ers and has said that the com­mu­nity needs to act to stem the flow of young Jews leav­ing the city.

Jus­ti­fy­ing the new or­gan­i­sa­tion, Com­mu­nity First, which is based on the na­tional Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil, Mr Lewis told the JC: “If we don’t act now to stop the ex­o­dus of tal­ented young peo­ple from Manch­ester to Lon­don, the com­mu­nity will reach cri­sis point.”

Mr Lewis, a for­mer Manch­ester Fed­er­a­tion head who is now Bury South Labour MP and Un­der-Sec­re­tary of State for Care Ser­vices, added: “We have the early signs of a de­clin­ing com­mu­nity in Manch­ester and if we don’t plan for the fu­ture, the con­se­quences will be sig­nif­i­cant.”

Point­ing out that the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil had never been a lead­er­ship body, Mr Lewis praised Manch­ester Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil pres­i­dent Louis Ra­pa­port for “putting all is­sues of ego and sta­tus to one side and act­ing in the best in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity”.

Mr Ra­pa­port com­mented: “The Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil al­lows the com­mu­nity to dis­cuss mat­ters of mu­tual in­ter­est. But we are ama­teurs and not a body that can bring about change. We are not proac­tive but re­ac­tive to what goes on in the com­mu­nity.” He added: “The com­mu­nity can­not stand by and ig­nore the in­put of the movers and shakers.”

Mr Lewis added that Com­mu­nity First, which he is set­ting up with Manch­ester Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive, Sir Howard Bern­stein, would com­prise re­spected peo­ple with a track record of lead­er­ship who were also ac­tive mem­bers of the com­mu­nity and able to re­spond to chal­lenges. He said that rather than rep­re­sent or­gan­i­sa­tions, Com­mu­nity First would be a lead­er­ship ex­ec­u­tive based on merit that looked at the “over­all needs” of the com­mu­nity.

Al­though Mr Lewis said that the names of those ap­pointed to the new un­elected body — set up by Manch­ester’s Jewish Project to Re­or­gan­ise Com­mu­nal Or­gan­i­sa­tions — would not be re­vealed for an­other month, he noted: “When the com­mu­nity sees the cal­i­bre and sta­tus of the peo­ple in­volved they will feel con­fi­dent that th­ese peo­ple are fit to lead the com­mu­nity in tack­ling real chal­lenges.”

He praised Sir Howard Bern­stein, who he said had trans­formed Manch­ester into one of Europe’s great­est cities, for be­ing will­ing to give his time, en­ergy and ex­per­tise to his com­mu­nity.

But for­mer Board of Deputies vi­cepres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor Eric Moon­man, who voiced crit­i­cism in last week’s JC of the new body, warned: “The Lon­don Lead­er­ship Coun­cil has not proved it­self and if Manch­ester wants to take the same road it should wait and see if the Lon­don ex­pe­ri­ence suc­ceeds.” He ar­gued that money and not just “fine peo­ple” brought about change.

Pro­fes­sor Moon­man pointed out that phi­lan­thropists such as Joshua Rowe in Manch­ester and the Ziff fam­ily in Leeds brought about change within com­mu­ni­ties. He was con­cerned that few new phi­lan­thropists had come for­ward to serve pro­vin­cial com­mu­ni­ties in the past 10 years.

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